About 9 years ago I moved into a lovely saltbox style home nestled in the redwoods above Santa Cruz California. After a few seasons of neglecting the brush, weed, and redwood sprout growth, everything from invasive Scotch broom to the Russian wheat that my neighbor planted has invaded my yard.
I went about educating myself about brush clearing and now use a machete and a reaping hook, which I learned to make and use from a video tutorial. In the video Don Fernando Caamano of Ecuador shows how to create your own reaping hook from a bifurcated branch. Chop the branch down to the right shape and a very strong and lightweight hook is created. This tool has been very useful to me and even better, it was free.
The reaping hook is essentially a complement to the machete in your other hand. I also use it to help drag and clear branches after bucking up a fallen tree for firewood. The hook keeps your hands out of the area that you are swinging a machete into. It also keeps the poison oak, spiders, ticks, and whatever else is lurking to harm my person at arm’s distance. On softer vegetation you can use the hook to pull the plants taut to expose the roots and stalks and sever them with your machete. I also use the hook to pull all my longer or larger trimmings into a pile for cleanup before I go back through with a rake.
I’ve never tried a commercial reaping hook because as far as I know it doesn’t exist aside from the bladed models which are also referred to as reaping hooks but are really a sickle. This is a hand made tool that can be seen in museums and found in old barns. It is free to make but becomes a valuable tool once you use it a few times. Thank you Don Fernando Caamano.